Since starting Plastic Free YYC, my friends and family have supported me with encouraging words and sentiments. One comment I have heard a fair amount has been “This is so YOU, Briana!” I know it is meant as a compliment and that this website, is “me”, but my opinion is that this is for everyone.
“Being an environmentalist” “Caring about the planet” “Greenie” or “Tree-hugger” are no longer niche attributes solely for describing hipsters, biology majors or Greenpeace activists. These identifiers belong to every one of us. The only difference is where we are in the process.
“Going Green” is a process of minuet steps that add up to create a lifestyle resulting in compounding positive results. Not unlike becoming a marathon runner… You wouldn’t wake up tomorrow and simply run a 40k marathon. You’d probably decide months in advance to do it, sign up and began a slow and steady training ritual. Beginning with short distance runs, increasing the distance a little each day, building your muscles and upping your endurance. Over time, you would train your body with dedication and daily adaptations to your lifestyle – waking up earlier, eating healthier, stretching – until you find yourself able to run that marathon. Then before you know it, you’re already signed up and ready to run another because you can! It is a simple process of changing small every day habits to reach a goal. Adopting a plastic-free, green lifestyle is no different than training to become a marathon runner.
The handful of habits you change begin to create a lifestyle. Then, you find yourself surrounded by others adhering to similar lifestyles which start to create societal change. And with that change, comes pressure on the market to adapt and governments to implement better policies.
And this my friends, is how YOU save the planet. One small, not-so-insignificant “No, plastic bag please” at a time.
I can hear you thinking, “Why is it up to me?” Well, without our – ‘consumers’ – desire to change, industry will not budge and we will continue down this path of destruction until there is nothing left to destroy. We are the masses. We are the 99% and we hold the power to change everything if we so choose. But only when we all start singing the same tune will our collective voice be heard.
Every time you buy something, you are telling the company, the industry, the market, that this is what you want and as long as they keep selling it you will keep on buying it.
Industries and markets are constantly trying to adapt to consumers’ demands. You may want to believe that you are being told what to buy, to like, to desire, etc. I’m sorry to break it to you, that’s not the case. Marketing, sales, and advertising is not a Mad Men episode with Don and Peggy in a heated debate over the copy to convince shoppers to buy Heinz ketchup. Nay, today’s marketers are sitting at their desks, spewing over consumer sales data, playing with Excel formulas and analyzing the strange nuances of the YOUR purchases! They are pulling data from social media channels of all the likes and shares and posts and comments, so they can see what it is you, the buyer, wants and may want in the near future.
This is why everyone and their dog is constantly pestering you to “Do a review!” or “take this survey!”
Data = knowledge = $$$$.
Money Talks. So, if you want to beat the Big Guns like manufacturers, agriculture, beverage companies, cosmetics, automotive, oil, and pharma, its time to make your money sing!
Buying power is the most powerful thing you have to change the world. This is YOUR super power. Look around you. Notice the influx of organic this, green that, and gluten-free other thing. This is not because the big powerful CEOs sat down in their leather chairs at a boardroom table made of rich mahogany and said “Hey! You know what, Frank, I think we need to start selling gluten-free, organic, biodegradable, fair-trade, truffle-flavoured, avocado toast!” No, their team of data analysts gave them a pile of charts and grafts of compiled data from watching and listening to US and the dollar signs started flashing in their eyes!
So, I implore you, Buy with intention. Make smart, researched choices. Find better alternatives to the plastic options. Understand the who, what, where, why, when and how about your purchases. Take those baby steps forward towards a new, green, plastic-free lifestyle.
I chose this lifestyle for our oceans. But, it is very hard to convey the tragic state of the oceans to a land-locked, prairie population. It is more difficult to explain the profound importance our oceans have on our ecosystem this far away or how we could even be part of the problem miles from the coast. But we are. And it is. If the unsightly images of sea turtles, birds or whales killed by plastic garbage doesn’t jolt your empathic nerve think about this: The ocean provides 70% of our oxygen. Not to dis-credit our beautiful forests, buuuuut, if you like to breath, it might be time to step up to the challenge!
One choice at a time you get closer to that goal of a plastic-free lifestyle. It doesn’t matter where you are in the process; maybe you’re a waste-free expert with only a small jar of garbage per month or maybe reading this blog is your first step. What matters is that WE ALL realize the true potential behind our purchasing decisions and try, a little bit at a time, to create that collective voice for change.